My Google calendar tells me that today is Rocco Oliverio's birthday. Rocco, a fantastic grassroots organizer, teacher, and community stabilizer, died suddenly and unexpectedly last December around the age of 75. Gloria and I had met him in the 1980s and worked with him closely during Bill Denihan's campaign for mayor, and thereafter. If I recall correctly, the cause of his early death was that his heart failed. For all we knew, he was healthy and vigorous up until the time of his death.
Our friend Ed Hauser, age 47, passed suddenly and unexpectedly this past November 14th. Again, the cause was that his heart gave out. We got to know Ed very well during the Whiskey Island land-grab attempts and later in recording and witnessing many of the ODOT sham hearings. He was tenacious, brave, principled, and able.
Gloria, age 58, on the evening of Ed's funeral-home visitation on November 17th, had a massive heart attack, suddenly and totally unexpectedly, nearly died a few times, and is now just beginning to recover at Metro in the cardiac ICU.
At about the same time as Burten's death, State Rep. John (Jay) Carroll of Garfield Heights, age 29, died in his sleep of "hard-to-detect disease of heart." An article later that year points out that Carroll and Colleen Shaughnessy (murdered in August of 1983 in the State Office Building), both destined for successful political careers in Cleveland, both breaths of fresh air, departed this earthly orb too, too early, with "unfinished business."
What's the point of all this, you say? Well, it appears that November and December are rough times of year for hearts, and that a good number of the bright lights in our community, those who love their neighbors, have hearts that break, particularly around the end of the year.
And again, today is Rocco's birthday, and it was always good knowing that Rocco had your back. You could depend on him to do the right thing.